Monday, June 9, 2008

Hipster Sushi in the Atlas District (aka way far Capital Hill)

Sticky Rice
1224 H St NE (between N 12th St & N 13th St)
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 397-7655
Mon-Thu, Sun 5:00 p.m.-2:00 a.m.
Fri-Sat 5:00 p.m.-3:00 a.m.
Reservations Accepted

2 out of 5 grains of rice

By Senior Roving Reporter Lily C. and Freelance Food Evaluation Expert Will G.

We arrived at Sticky Rice at 7:45pm on a Thursday night and found ourselves faced with an hour wait! On H Street NE! What is this world coming to? The silver lining in this story is our discovery that the Red and the Black (bar next door) has $2.25 drinks during happy hour M-F from 5-8pm. $2.25 for an Absolut and soda? Now that is a deal!! And Sticky Rice will call you on your cell when your table is ready, so you can get sloshed before dinner.

When we finally got our table an hour later, the stereo greeted us with some classic Journey and Lionel Richie as we sat down. For most of the dining patrons, this music was retro and ironic. Sadly for us, we were reminded of high school prom. Our waitress was young and perky but not the most attentive throughout the meal.

We decided to sample a wide variety of the menu (given our drunken state).
• Apps: Tater Tots and Ribs
• Old School Sushi: Hamachi, Saba, and Unagi Nigri
• New Fangled Sushi: Chili Roll (tuna, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeno & grilled pineapple w/ tempura crunchies and tobiko) and New Style Sashimi (tuna and tilapia topped with ginger garlic and ponzu then flash seared with hot sesame oil finished with scallions and sesame seeds.)

In an effort to be positive, let’s start with the good news. The tater tots ROCKED our world. They were crispy, hot and came with a special dipping sauce (spicy mayo). The tots are available as a regular side order ($2), or by the bucket ($6). Impressively, we showed restraint and decided to bypass the bucket. We could have just eaten this and been very happy.

We also received a free order of the sticky balls, a promotional touch for the restaurant’s opening week. While some may find the name off-putting (but clearly not us), these deep fried rice balls were super tasty. According to menu, these morsels of yummy goodness are composed of tuna, crab, siracha, rice in an inari pocket deep fried w/ scallions, wasabi dressing and eel sauce. We did not detect any seafood like substance in our balls, but who cares when you have deep fried rice with sauce? The ribs were also decent. Meaty and not too fatty with a light sauce.

Now for the bad news. The service was monumentally slow. And the sushi took forever to come. Way longer than the cooked food. What up with that? The nigri sushi was edible, decent even. I rank it a step above supermarket sushi. But the new fangled sushi was crazy and wrong. The chili roll sounded so good on paper but it was strangely tasteless. Both the tuna and pineapple were flavorless. The dominating flavor and texture was from the too large pieces of crunchy cucumber. When a “chili roll” tastes like cucumber, something is seriously off. And the “new style” sashimi was an affront to fish-eaters everywhere. Clearly the flash frying technique needs some work, because our thin pieces of fish were almost cooked through. And they didn’t taste that fresh, quite frankly. We stopped eating after a few bits.

Given that Sticky Rice has just debuted, we are willing to give the food another try once they’ve had some time to get up to speed. However, it is already on our list as the go-to place when late night tots are needed to soak up the copious amounts of alcohol consumed at the various hipster bars just down the block.